Monday

The Many Uses for Lemon Balm

If you've ever had an herb garden, you know how useful fresh herbs can be.  Cut a little aloe vera for a burn or sting, make some mint tea for a family member with indigestion or sprinkle some rosemary on roasted potatoes for amazing flavor with very little effort. There are thousands of herbs, and many of them have multiple applications, all of which can be pretty darned handy.

Here's an example:  I've received lots of questions asking how to use lemon balm.  This sprightly, bright green herb is a member of the mint family but doesn't taste or smell minty.  Instead, it has a light lemony aroma that's flowery without being cloying.  Once planted, it often grows in profusion, taking up all the available space and generally making a riotous nuisance of itself until it dies back in the fall.

Uses for Lemon Balm


Lemon balm may seem like a pesky lightweight when it comes to herbal effectiveness, but that isn't the case.

As a sedative and sleep aid - In fresh or dried tea form, it is considered an effective sleep aid that also helps calm frazzled nerves. In fact, lemon balm and valerian are both referred to as herbal valium for their calming and sleep inducing qualities.

As a salad ingredient and garnish - I think lemon balm makes a much more attractive garnish than parsley. It also tastes better than parsley when added to vegetable salad.  Lemon balm is also a nice addition to fruit or pasta salad.

With fresh flowers - It contributes scent, color and volume to fresh flower arrangements where it's a vibrant green that's relatively long lasting.

(Please check the herb profile link for contraindications to using lemon balm.)

Lemon Balm Jelly

Last October I made lemon balm jelly.  I used a basic, small recipe that netted me four precious eight ounce jars. The end result tasted distinctively lemon balmy, with a sweet aftertaste like honey, although there is no honey in the recipe.  I slather it on muffins and added it to my evening tea (any variety) instead of sugar.  It is sooo tasty, sweet and light.


I have included some photos of my canning effort. The project was fun and surprisingly easy.

This unique jelly is such a hit that I plan on making it a regular project.

Please try lemon balm in your garden this year. If you already have a patch thriving on your property, consider using this versatile herb in more of your culinary, crafting and other projects. If I could only choose five herbs to grow in my garden, lemon balm would definitely be one of them.

(Oh, and if you're wondering if lemon balm really does help with sleep related problems, I've found that it does make it easier for me to relax and drift off after a hard day. For heavy duty sleep help, I use lemon balm with valerian. Works every time.)

Below are links to my herb profile for lemon balm, other fun uses for this herb and a link to the canning recipe I used:

How to Grow Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm - The Scent that Refreshes Your Hair
How to Make Lemon Balm Liqueur
Lemon Balm Jelly Recipe

4 comments:

  1. Hi Sara, Thanks for the interesting articles about Lemon Balm.
    Could you please let me know how much pectin you used, I see the recipe says '1 box Pectin', we buy it here (Down Under!) in different packaging. - I know ours package would be too much!
    I love this herb & so do my bees!

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    Replies
    1. Hey Herbygal,

      I used Ball bulk pectin in a jar. The Ball folks recommend 6 tablespoons of of their powdered product as a substitute for the "one box" of powdered pectin spelled out in many old recipes. This worked fine for me, and I'd use the same amount again. Ball is a large canning jar, lid and accessory manufacturer in the U.S. With their recommendation, you may be able to find a conversion chart for a product available near you. Hope this helps.

      Good luck,

      Sara

      Good luck!

      Delete
  2. This is great. I have way too much lemon balm and I don't like lemon flavored tea. Thanks for the ideas. cindy

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  3. Excellent post. I love and have lemon balm and in fact will try the jelly this year. Thanks for the info. I haven't tried it for sleep and relaxing, but now I will. Thanks a lot.

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